On December 10th an unknown spammer posted a selectively-edited video of Senator Carl Levin at YouTube and proceeded to tweet the link 45 times over 24 hours. The link is now dead (video deleted by user), but it has already been copied to accounts on various video sites. To find out what Senator Levin actually said, you can go watch the full C-SPAN clip at PoliticusUSA.
The video set off an online freakout of epic proportions. Recipients of this ‘reply message spam’ included a Bradley Manning account, Occupy accounts, and assorted hacktivist accounts. It was like squirting lighter fluid onto a smoldering flame, feeding paranoid memes of right and left. Indeed, “Joe Fangorico” was nonpartisan, including FOX News’ own Joe Napolitano and Ron Paulites on his or her list.
That’s because spammers are mainly looking for clicks. They make money from the first click, and so have incentive to obtain as many clicks as possible. A certain subset of netizen culture is eager for outrage, and therefore prone to pass disinformation. Video evidence that President Obama has evil designs on habeas corpus? That’s traffic gold, which is why so many different sites featured the video.
Joe Fangorico is not just a spammer, he’s also a hacker. You can see the Twitter account here:
There’s a screenshot of the account on the left below. On the right, a Twitter phishing page I found while sniffing the video’s Google traces:
I said on Twitter last night that whoever did this probably had the usual motives. Those include grift, which this is, and general mayhem, which this also is. And that’s a shame, because the president actually made a very important stand on the National Defense Authorization Act while this exercise in fake outrage was burning off all the oxygen on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.
It takes courage to threaten to veto essential Department of Defense legislation, but Obama did. Then he won concessions that made the bill less awful (that section of it is still not good) and preserved habeas corpus rights (which were threatened, but not by him). He even won language that will let him end our national state of permanent war if he can win a second term and withdraw from Afghanistan.
You would think this would be exciting news, but exactly the opposite noise has enjoyed all the attention. Of course, this is not really about Obama but the passionate need of some people to despise him no matter what. Obama Derangement Syndrome is an addiction whose junkies will believe anything for a fix.